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On the Millennium,
BAPTIST CHURCH OF CHRIST
It is at your request that these discourses appear in print. When in the course of exposition I first entered on them, it was not from an idea that I at that time sufficiently understood the prophecy, but from a hope that by this means I might understand it better. And now that I have ventured to publish, it is not because I am fully satisfied of having given the true meaning in every instance. There are parts in which I can only say, I have done the best I could. If, however, I had not been satisfied as to the general meaning of the prophecy, or had been conscious of having thrown no new light upon it, I should have felt it to be my duty to withhold my papers from the public eye.
Observing the blessing pronounced on "him that readeth, and on them that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein," I had a desire to enter
upon it, accompanied, I think, with some sense of my dependence upon the enlightening influences of the Holy Spirit. The reason also assigned why we should study this part of the Holy Scriptures in particular-that "the time is at hand," seemed to have greater force after a lapse of above seventeen hundred years, than it could have at the time of its being written, I conceived also that the events of the present times, though we should beware of illusive hypotheses founded upon them, yet called for a special attention to prophecy. They might also be expected to throw some light upon it. Some late writers upon the subject appear to understand many things which earlier ones did not; and there is reason to expect that prophecy will be understood much better in years to come than it is at present.
The method I pursued was, first to read it carefully over, and as I went on, to note down what first struck me as the meaning. After reducing these notes into something like a scheme of the prophecy, I examined the best expositors I could procure, and comparing my own first thoughts with theirs, was better able to judge of their justness. Some of them were confirmed, some corrected, and many added to them.
I have dealt but little in quotations, refusing nothing however from any writer which appeared to me to be just. And as to what appeared otherwise, I have generally passed it over without attempting to refute it; as being rather desirous of giving the true meaning, than of proving that other men's opinions were founded in mistake.
The exposition of a prophecy, delivered in symbolical language, must be liable to many mistakes. A style so highly figurative furnishes great scope for the imagination, which, unless it be accompanied with a sober and just judgment, will lead us into labyrinths of error. How far I have been enabled to avoid them, and to succeed in throwing light upon any part of the prophecy, it is not for me to decide. This I know, my object has been to obtain its true meaning, and to communicate it in a manner suited, not to the curious, but to the Christian reader.
The manuscript has lien by me between four and five years, during which I have frequently re-examined its contents, and availed myself of any farther light which by reading or reflection has appeared on the subject. During this period several of our most highly esteemed friends, who joined in the request, are gone the way of all the earth. We shall soon follow them. We have seen enough, amidst all the troubles of our times, to gladden our hearts; and trust that our children will see greater things than these.
Kettering, March 21, 1815.
Your affectionate Pastor,